Viola Davis just released her highly anticipated memoir, Finding Me, where readers get the most honest and raw version of herself and her life.
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In it, the actress details her often grim childhood, growing up hungry, running from bullies, the domestic abuse happening in her home, and how she overcame it all to become one of the most successful actresses in Hollywood.
The Ma Rainey's Black Bottom star sat down with Today's Hoda Kotb for her podcast, Making Space, where the two discussed the book, and had heart wrenching conversations about all that she went through in her childhood.
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The co-host began the episode by explaining the heartbreaking reality of the Academy Award winner's background, describing young Viola as: "The one who survived an unthinkable childhood, the one who was bullied and chased, and felt like she was running from her life, the one who witnessed abuse and endured hardships so painful, few people would have survived."
She expressed that the book was: "So meaningful and beautiful and touching… it moved me to my very core," to which the author responded that it was terrifying to publish, admitting that: "There's a lot of feelings because I'm putting my life out there for the world to judge, observe."
The actress however didn't hesitate to open up about the hardships that marred her childhood, starting off by the revelation that she grew up hungry. "The worst part about it is the deep, deep shame," she said, as she recalled a time a friend came over to her house and asked if she was moving because there was nothing in the fridge.
The heartfelt conversation
She also recalled the traumatic bullying she faced, which was largely race motivated. She told the horrifying story of feeling like she was running for her life when groups of boys would chase after her calling her slurs, which she concluded with the painful realization she had back then, that she: "Had no arms to run into."
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Back home, she faced a different kind of trauma: witnessing domestic abuse between her parents. She explained how helpless she felt, and how growing up she felt shame if anyone saw what was happening, but as an adult, she wondered why those who did see it didn't do anything to help.
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Viola went on to detail her survival technique, and how she transported herself out of her painful situation. She revealed how she would go to the bathroom, sit on top of the toilet and focus intensely on one part of her body, usually her finger, and she would shut down and: "I'd leave my body and I'd go up to the ceiling, I'd turn around and look at myself, and it was awesome."
Ultimately, she grew to learn the power of race, to not fear being Black, and, she said: "I dreamed, I tried to achieve, and I kept secrets."
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